CEDAR RIVER - There are two reasons for a Sunday drive along Lake Michigan's Green Bay shoreline on Labor Day Weekend: The Cedar River Bridge Walk and the West Shore Fishing Museum's Ice Cream Social.
Cedar River is a recreational area surrounded by thousands of acres of Michigan's Escanaba State Forest lands that offers great hunting and fishing opportunities, ORV trails, and five campgrounds.
The Cedar River Bridge Walk is back once again after a couple attempts of a revival from local business owners, and it will be led by the Cedar River Queen at 10 a.m. on Sunday of the Labor Day weekend.
After about 16 successful years, the bridge walk was dropped over a decade ago due to liability concerns, and now with those concerns protected, the Cedarville Township Board solicited volunteers this year to organize the once very popular bridge walk.
The bridge walk started in the mid-1980's by a handful of clients, mostly local cottage owners, while enjoying refreshments in the Cedar River Pub, now known as the Lighthouse Family Bar and Grill. It was a Labor Day when conversation turned to the activities of the Mackinaw Bridge Walk when one said, "Hey we have our own bridge," and a group of 17 Pub patrons proceeded to walk the bridge on M-35 spanning the Cedar River.
Then Cedar River Pub owner, Jan Nash, along with some of the original bridge walkers organized an annual walking of the bridge in Cedar River on Labor Day. The event in a few years grew very successful as a mockery of the famous and large crowd drawing Labor Day Mackinaw Bridge Walk.
The tiny ghost town, Cedar River, on Labor Day, swelled from a handful of residents to a peek crowd estimated at over 5,000. People from all over North America walked the 200 some foot bridge holding signs designating their home locations. The event featured a pancake breakfast, local craft sales, bag pipers and other music. Proceeds benefited the Cedarville Volunteer Township Fire Department.
Traditionally, the bridge walk happened on Labor Day, but this year the Cedar River Bridge Walk will take place on Sunday, the day before Labor Day, to allow for travelers enjoyment of the day without the worries of having to leave the same day.
The walk will proceed at 10 a.m. (CDT) and begin from the Cedarville Township Hall on Old Mill Lane near the North end of the Cedar River bridge East of M-35.
In another event eight miles south of Cedar River, the 10th annual West Shore Fishing Museum's ice cream social will begin at noon on Sunday of Labor Day weekend. Located at the North end of Bailey Park, this successful event's specialty is its homemade pies served with hand-dipped ice cream. The pies always run out.
At the center of the West Shore Fishing Museum is the old Bailey house. Built by fisherman, Charles Bailey, in 1897, the house was slated for demolition if it were not for local support in preserving this area's rich fishing history. Charles father began fishing the area Green Bay waters in the 1870's.
The ice cream social's saga, preceded by two years of fish boils, has been the major funding activity that supports the fishing museum's restorations, displays, and operations.
The ice cream social also offers other foods, various displays of the area's fishing culture, a great view of Chambers Island, and leisure walks down trails. One of the first things attendees will want to do is to buy a raffle ticket as they run out faster than the pies.
The raffle is drawn later in the afternoon and gives chance of winning many nice items. Bring a lawn chair to sit and listen to the Sunroom String Band playing on the porch of the old Bailey house as entertainment before the raffle.
In its birth once again, the Cedar River Bridge Walk will be a limited event this year, and planners are seeking expression of support by participants. Planning for expanded activities next year will promise of something old and lots new.
Volunteers are always welcomed and needed for both events. Artists, crafters, and vendors are welcome to set-up for this year's Cedar River Bridge Walk. Interested parties may call (906) 863-3500.